How to repair and store down comforters

The best shell fabric is tightly woven cotton or a cotton-polyester blend. Each lets the down breathe and trap air properly, yet has fine enough thread counts that the down can’t work its way out.

Buy a washable cover to protect the shell from dirt and stains. Or make a cover by seaming two sheets on three sides and closing the fourth side with a zipper. To dry-clean or wash? Whether you dry-clean or wash a comforter, check and repair any open seams or loose stitching. For dry cleaning suggestions, see Down pillows. As for laundering, some experts advise handwashing or using only an oversize commercial washer and dryer. Others say the agitator of a top loader may weaken stitches. If in doubt, consult the label.

In a home washer, use the gentle cycle, warm water, and a mild detergent-half the amount for a normal load. Agitate the water and soap until mixed. Stop the machine, immerse the quilt, and continue the cycle. To aid rotation, add a pair of sneakers without laces. Repeat the rinse cycle until the water runs clear.

Set the dryer to Low. Tumble the comforter until dry; this may take 3 to 4 hours, during which you should periodically remove the comforter so its cover doesn’t get too hot. At the same time, loosen the clumps of down with your fingers. Include the sneakers; they’ll help distribute the down evenly. Repairing rips

You can make a temporary repair with pressure-sensitive cloth tape. To mend a rip, use a fine needle and fine thread. Abut the two edges; close with tiny slipstitches. Hand-stitch a fabric patch over the mend.